The objectives of this group are to foster and promote the conservation and management of Willaston Meadow and Woodland adjacent to the Willaston Recreation Ground for the benefit of the community.
In collaboration with the Local Authority, a sustainable and environmentally friendly management plan has been agreed that will maintain the neutral grassland and its flora and fauna. In addition, a section has been set aside to form an orchard – one of a network of ‘community orchards’ throughout the county. This project is run by Cheshire Landscape Trust in partnership with other county organisations, including the Cheshire Federation of Women’s Institutes. The first twelve apple trees were planted in 2004, and more apples and some pears have been added since, with an emphasis on local varieties.
Each year children from Willaston Primary School help with planting trees or flowers, and we have welcomed the local Rainbows and Cub Scouts, as well as other interested groups. All are welcome to join the Friends, on payment of a small membership fee, which helps with maintenance and the yearly grass mowing.
A meeting with a speaker takes place each May, and a summer outing to a relevant site is arranged. Additionally, members of the committee and other volunteers meet each month to carry out essential tasks.To join, please contact David Lynn or send a message via Facebook messenger: m.me/friendswillastonmeadow.
Big Meadow in Willaston has been awarded Green Pennant status
Recognising ongoing work to preserve rare grasslands at the site. Managed by the Friends of Willaston Meadow, with the help and support of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Big Meadow is classed as a Site of Biological Importance.
Mostly ‘unimproved’ grassland, the meadow has a diverse mix of native grasses and wildflowers such as Pignut and Yellow-rattle. Nationally 95 percent of this kind of grassland has been lost, in Cheshire this figure stands at closer to 98 percent.
Big Meadow is a 1.85 hectare hedged field of mostly semi-improved grassland, of which only about 2 percent remains in Cheshire. It is rich in grass species and perennial wildflowers, with varieties of old apple tree, several developed in Cheshire, and also some pear and damson trees. To the west of the Meadow a small copse of native trees has been planted over several years by Willaston Primary School pupils. The central area contains different grasses such as meadow foxtail, cocksfoot and Yorkshire fog, together with sorrel, pignut, yellow rattle, meadow buttercup and knapweed.
The Green Pennant Award is a national accolade that recognises high quality green spaces in England and Wales that are managed by voluntary and community groups. Only green spaces that are open to the public and are free to enter are eligible to win an award through the scheme, run by environmental charities Keep Britain Tidy, BTCV and GreenSpace.
The land is owned by Chester and West Cheshire Council and managed by the Friends of Willaston Meadow, with the support of residents and other local groups.